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2013 Grand Prix Final, Junior Men

by Alexandra Stevenson

Boyang Jin Dominates Technically, Nathan Chen Takes Bronze

1.  Overall 218.73; Boyang Jin, China, 5.SP 68.42 (37.70+30.72); 1.FS 150.31 (88.59+61.72).

Jin is a 16-year-old from Harbin in Northern China, who was fourth in the last World Junior Championships and third in the Chinese Senior nationals. He was fifth in the JrGP Final in Sochi last year. He skated his SP to the music John Curry used so successfully to win Olympic gold back in 1976, Minkus’ music for the ballet, “La Bayadere”, but it seemed to emphasize that he is not very balletic. Although he brought off a +1.29 triple Axel, and gained a small +0.10 on his triple Lutz to triple toe loop, his triple loop lost -0.10. He had no Level 4s and the change foot sit spin was only Level 2.

The judges reacted far more positively to his Charlie Chaplin routine for his Free. He opened with a good quad Salchow, which earned +0.57 over its base value of 10.50. That was followed by a quad toe loop to double toe loop, which was a bit tentative and lost -0.29 from its base value of 11.60. His triple Lutz to triple toe loop banked him a total of 10.40. Those fireworks were dampened a little by his step sequence, which was only Level 2 with +0.57 and a Level 3 change foot sit spin, which earned an extra +0.14)

Then the fireworks came back, and, as the 10% bonus marks clicked in, he did a third quad, a +0.57 toe loop. That obviously drained his energy and the following triple Axel lost two points from its base value plus 10%. The five remaining elements of his routine all got positive GoEs. There was a triple loop, a triple flip to single loop to triple Salchow, second triple Lutz, a Level 4 flying camel spin and a Level 2 change foot combination spin.

He said, “I am very happy to skate well, including the three difficult jumps (the quads) and my score was very good.” For the Free, he was 6.31 ahead of the Russian, Pitkeev, who was second. Taking just the Element score in the Free, Jin earned 88.59 marks with Pitkeev getting the second highest 76.72, an incredible gap of 11.87 points. However, the components were another story.

Chen, the American, was the highest scored in this category with Pikeev second and Jin was ranked only fifth best with 61.72. The gap between Chen’s superior FS components and Jin’s was 6.42.

But there was no denying, technically, Boyang was in a different class. This is a sport and, although artistry adds an incomparable factor, it was right that Boyang won. Boyang said, depreciatingly, “I always do well in practice but in the competition I become more careless. I tried my best not to let that happen this time. I’d also like to improve my expression. Compared to last year’s Final, I was a lot less nervous.”

2.  Overall 216.24; Adian Pitkeev, Russia, 2.SP 72.24 (40.95+31.29); 2.FS 144.00 (76.72+67.28).

Pitkeev is a 15-year-old who qualified for this event with silver in Riga and gold Gdansk in his JrGP assignments. He previously had been 6th in the 2012 JrGP in Lake Placid. He is now taught by Eteri Tutberidze, who also trains Julia Lipnitskaia, and says the two of them derive pleasure from pushing and inspiring each other.

He performed his SP to “At Voland’s Ball, a Waltz by Igor Korneliuk. His opening triple Axel was good enough for six of the panel of nine judges to punch in +2 Grades of Execution, while the other three mere gave +1. That resulted in +1.71 added to the jump’s base value of 8.50. The following triple Lutz to triple toe loop gained +0.60 over its base value of 10.10. His steps were Level 3 with +0.36 added. His flying sit spin was Level 4 with +0.14 added At the halfway mark, he did a triple loop which earned its base value plus 10%, which was 5.61. He concluded with his other two spins. Both gained Level 4, with the change foot camel getting an extra +0.50, and the change foot combination receiving an additional +0.43.

His FS was set by music performed by Edvin Marton, “Art on Ice”. In the FS, in which the skaters execute 12 moves, Pitkeev had only one negative Grade of Execution. That was his seventh move, a triple flip which got an “e” for wrong edge take-off.

He opened with a +1.14 triple Axel to triple toe loop, followed by a +0.70 triple Lutz to double toe loop, and a second triple Axel, which received +1.71 over its base value. His steps were Level 3 +0.50. His first spin, a change foot sit, was only Level 2 and despite the added 0.36 Grade of Execution, he banked only 2.66 for this element.

His second triple Lutz, which was set at the half-way point where the 10% extra for jumps clicks in, received an extra 1.10. Then came the flawed triple flip mentioned previously. That was followed by a +0.70 triple loop. The following triple Salchow to two double toe loops earned only its base value plus 10%, but that still banked him 7.48. His last two spins, a flying camel and a change foot combination, were both deemed worthy of the maximum Level 4 by the Technical panel and the nine judges, collectively, rewarded them both with +0.43 each. Between the two spins, Pitkeev executed a +0.50 double Axel. Although his component lows were two 5.75 for Transitions and Linking footwork, they rose up to five 7.25, three given by the same judge, for the last three of the five categories.

He was a steady second, but he was disappointed. “I couldn’t do a quad, so it was a bit disappointing. I couldn’t skate freely, the triple Axels went well. I am happy overall. I have nice coaches and they are supporting me. I have more things to do from now on. I grew up physically as well as mentally. My mother encouraged me to keep on skating. It is not an easy path. I was very impressed by the two medalists standing with me."

3.  Overall 214.61; Nathan Chen 3.SP 71.52 (39.25+33.27 -1); 3.FS 143.09 (74.95+68.14).

Chen, a 14-year-old who was born in Salt Lake City and now trains with Rafael Arutyunyan in Artesia, CA, in the rink owned by Michelle Kwan’s family, so fascinated the organizers of this event, he was invited to skate in the Exhibition that wrapped up this event, even though he was “only” third in his event. The Japanese organizers and television commentators were fascinated by his obviously Asian background, but the youngster likes to speak with his blades and not his tongue.

He has studied with the Ballet West Company and competed in gymnastics for seven years, but skating is his main love. He took to the ice at three, and by 2003 had entered his first skating competition. He attends an on-line public school. When he won the US Novice title in 2010, was he happy? No, because he hadn’t done his best. Nevertheless, Skating magazine reported that his performance in Spokane, made him the youngest novice champion in the history of U.S. Figure Skating. He then went back to nationals the following year and won that title again, this time by the huge margin of 26 points. Now that makes a statement! This past season, after winning his first ever JrGP, in Linz, Austria, and then went on to take bronze in nationals at Junior level.

In the Short Program in Fukuoka, he skated last, an indication that he was the top qualifier for this event, having won his two JrGP assignments, in Mexico City & Minsk, the capital of Belarus by the most number of points. This year’s SP is set to music from the Summer & Winter sections of Vivaldi’s The Seasons, choreographed by Nadia Kanaeva.

It was a routine with great promise. He successfully brought off a triple Axel, with which he earned +0.43 GoE for a total of 8.93. Had he not fallen on his triple Lutz to triple toe loop combination, which had two full points subtracted from the base value of 11.11 (which included the 10% bonus for jumps in the second half), and another point removed for the fall), he would have been in the lead after this section. (The leader earned a total for this section of 73.63, while Chen accumulated 71.52 which is only 2.11 less. His non-fall total would have been 74.52.)

Chen also brought off a good +0.50 triple loop. There is also room for improvement. His first spin, a change foot camel, was Level 4, but the other two spins, and his footwork were Level 3.

His music for the Free was Glenn Miller’s upbeat “Chatanooga Choo Choo” and “Summertime” from George Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. After this section, which began with a double Axel, followed by a triple Axel, which got full credit for the rotation, but which had a flawed landing and lost -0.57 from its base value of 8.50. That was his ONLY flaw. All his other ten elements got good GoEs.

His other six jumping passes were set after the 10% bonus clicked in. A triple Lutz to double toe to double loop earned an extra 0.40; the following triple flip to triple toe loop got an extra +0.30; a triple loop was given +0.70 over the base value; a triple Salchow to double loop received an additional +0.20; a triple flip was rewarded with +0.70, and his final jump, a triple Lutz got an extra 0.40. He finished with a Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned an extra 1.0. His previous flying camel was a Level 4 with +0.50. His first spin, a change foot sit, was Level 3 with +0.71. His Level 3 steps earned +0.79.

He placed first on the components score, and was third on the element technical score and overall in the Free and overall in the competition. The individual component marks for his Free, ranged from one 7.75 down to three 6.25s.

Chen explained, “I thought I did as well as I could have. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but I think I did, overall, really well. I got my triple Axel, which is definitely a big bonus for me. I got through the program with everything basically the way that I planned. It’s like a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to come to the JrGPF. I’m in a big stadium with all these people and everyone is cheering you on. It’s great. This is definitely a step up for me and I hope it will show at nationals.

After receiving his medal, he said, “I feel very happy and honored to be on the podium with two other very good skaters. The secret to a good performance is to be calm and stay focused.” Asked about the prevalence of Asian skaters and their possible advantage, he gave a very mature response. “To be a good skater, it’s not really the race that counts. It depends on how each individual person works.”

Chen is soft spoken, and obviously very intelligent and well-schooled. He made sure to comment, “I felt very happy and extremely honored to be on the podium with two other very good skaters.

4.  Overall 205.71; Keiji Tanaka, Japan 1.SP 73.63 (41.09+32.54); 4.FS 132.08 (69.20+64.88 -2).

Tanaka is the current Japanese Junior champion, who turned 10 on November 22. He won the Short Program in Fukuoka but had a disastrous FS, falling twice. His SP was set to Instinct Rhapsody by Ikuko Kawai. His choreography is done by Kenji Miyamota.

He opened his SP with a +1.86 triple Axel. That number came from seven judges punching in +2, and two giving +1. His triple flip to triple toe loop gained only the base value of 9.40. His Level 3 change foot camel spin gained a tiny +0.07, over its base value of 2.80. His triple loop set at the halfway point got +0.80 and, along with the extra 10%, he banked 6.41. The remaining two spins and his steps were all the maximum Level 4 with the flying sit getting +0.36; the straight line steps being rewarded with a full point extra; and the change foot combination earning an extra 0.26. That put him in the lead, 1.39 ahead of Pitkeev.

Things went wrong right from his opening move in his Dr. Zhivago FS. His quad toe attempt did not have enough height and he fell, although he was credited with getting the full four rotations. His triple Axel was good, although he did not add a double toe loop as planned. However, he received an extra 1.29 GoE.

His triple flip to triple toe loop received a marginal +0.10; his Level 3 steps received +0.43, and the following Level 3 flying change foot combination spin made its base value, but nothing more.

He fell a second time on his triple Axel at the halfway mark. His triple Salchow to double toe loop to double loop earned only +0.20 over its base value of it base value plus 10%, but his triple Lutz got an “e” for wrong edge take-off. His Level 4 change foot sit spin lost a minimal -0.04, but the triple flip which followed gained an extra +0.80 to its base value plus 10%. His last jump, a triple loop lost -0.50. he concluded with a -0.13 change foot combination spin which gained a total of 2.87.

His components ranged from one 7.25 down to one 5.75. He said during the quad, “I thought I was nailing it, but then I fell. And the same thing happened to me on the second triple Axel. Before the second triple I wasn’t confident. I need to improve tis for the next competition. I tried not to think about skating last. Maybe I was warmed down from such a long time after the warm-up. My next competition is nationals and that’s very important, so I need to be in as great a shape as I can. I have to treat this event as a learning experience.”

5.  Overall 198.63; Alexander Petrov, Russia, 4.SP 70.92 (39.92+31.00); 5.FS 127.71 (64.51+63.20).

Petrov is a 14-year-old from St. Petersburg, who was third in the Russian Junior nationals and 10th in the senior division. He qualified for the Final by winning silver in both of his allotted JrGPs, in Poland and in the Czech Republic. His SP was set to music from “The Godfather”. He is trained by Alexei Mishin.

His seven elements in the SP, including his triple Axel, which earned an extra 1.14, all received positive GoEs. The triple Lutz to triple toe loop got an extra +0.50 and the triple loop at the half way point earned a total of 6.01.Only his change foot camel spin earned Level 4 (with +0.21). His other two spins were Level 3. The flying sit gained +0.43 and the final move, a change foot combination earned +0.36. His steps were +0.57. His components ranged from two 5.50s for Transitions. His highest awards came from one judge who gave three 7.00s, a 7.25, and a 6.75. No other judge gave a mark above 6.75.

Petrov’s Free was set to “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”. In an extraordinary occurrence, he presented only ten instead of twelve elements. Before his final three moves, a triple loop (0.40), a Level 3 change foot combination spin (+0.50) and his Level 3 steps (+0.50), he was supposed to do two double Axels. “I don’t know why. I wanted to. I just couldn’t.”

He had started well with a triple Axel which gained an extra +1.57. But that was followed by a second triple Axel to double toe loop, which had a full point removed from the base value, and a triple Lutz to triple toe loop which lost -1.10. His change foot camel spin was Level 3 with +0.29. His second triple Lutz got a small +0.10. At the halfway mark, he executed a triple flip to single loop to triple Salchow which earned a total of 11.40. Then came a Level 3 flying sit spin, which gained an extra +0.14 and a triple loop which received a total of 3.50. Then he skated through the time for the two separate double Axels. Presuming he had been able to do them with nothing added or subtracted, but with the 10% bonus for jumps in the second half, he would have earned 3.63 for each of them. That’s 7.26 and it would have taken him, marginally, over Tanaka, swapping their places overall.

6.  Overall 182.39; Ryuju Hino, Japan, 6.SP 58.56 (30.42+28.14); 6.FS 123.83 (69.67+55.16 -1).

Hino, 18, was born in Tokyo but now lives in Nagoya where he trains. This is his third Grand Prix Final. In Quebec City in 2011, he finished fifth and in Sochi last December he was third, edging out American, Jason Brown for the bronze. He qualified this year by placing second to Chen in both Mexico City and Minsk. However, in this event, skating to Kodo Drums, although he opened with a good triple Axel (+1.29), he singled the first jump of his combination, Lutz to triple toe loop, and did not achieve a Level 4 for any of his spins or footwork.

His Free was set to Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet. However, he got an arrow for slight under-rotation his quad toe loop, and fell on it. He said, “I am happy that I tried my quad. I hope to step it up soon and land it in competition.”

His first triple Axel combined with a triple toe loop was good and he was rewarded with an extra +1.29. However, his second triple Axel, at the halfway point, lost a full point from its base value. His triple flip was saddled with an “e” for wrong edge take-off and his last jumping pass, a triple Salchow to triple toe loop lost a minimal -0.20. Two of his spins were Level 4. The steps and his change foot combination spin were Level 3.

He said, “I was satisfied with my performance. However, I did not get the score I was hoping for. I am a little angry at myself, so I will practice harder until my next competition. I was able to look at the audience and connect with them and I able to hold on to my triple Salchow to triple toe loop right at the end.

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